'We follow the facts wherever they lead': Inspector general who was demoted after Trump attacked her speaks out on the importance of independent oversight
Christi Grimm, the former acting inspector general (IG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), spoke out Tuesday about the importance of independence for the US oversight community. Grimm angered President Donald Trump when she released an independent report that found there were "severe" and "widespread" shortages of masks and other critical supplies across the US in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Trump suggested Grimm's report was politically motivated and replaced her shortly after. "I view, and the community views, independence and effectiveness of an IG as a key safeguard for the programs that we oversee," Grimm said Tuesday while testifying before the House Oversight Committee. "We follow the facts wherever they lead, we are impartial in what we do, and really anything that is done that could impair independence, I think, compromises the effectiveness of oversight of programs that are there to serve the American public." she added. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Christi Grimm, the former acting inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), spoke out Tuesday about the importance of the independence of the US oversight community. Grimm served as the HHS acting IG until May 2, when President Donald Trump announced he would replace her with Jason Weida, an assistant US attorney in Boston following a slew of public attacks against her. During a briefing Tuesday before the House Oversight Committee, Democratic Rep. Gerald Connolly of Virginia asked Grimm whether she was "concerned professionally that the independence of IGs or your own independence are at risk, or might be compromised, by recent statements and actions taken by the executive." "Chairman Connelly, I would like to address your question by just talking about the importance of independence for inspectors general, generally," Grimm said. "I view, and the community views, independence and effectiveness of an IG as a key safeguard for the programs that we oversee. It's a cornerstone of the IG Act and it's a foundational element of the work of any IG." She added that this independence "allows us to bring our objective judgment to bear on problems without worrying about whether those that run the programs are hearing what they want to hear, or what they want to see the programs be doing." "We follow the facts wherever they lead, we are impartial in what we do, and really anything that is done that could impair independence, I think, compromises the effectiveness of oversight of programs that are there to serve the American public — in our case the 300 programs within HHS," Grimm said. Grimm angered Trump after she released a report in March that said there were "severe shortages" of testing kits in the US, "widespread shortages" of masks and other personal protective equipment at hospitals across the country, and significant delays in getting coronavirus test results. The deficits hampered the US's ability to respond effectively to the coronavirus outbreak and curb its spread, the report found. Trump tore into Grimm during an April 6 news conference and accused her findings of being politically motivated. "Where did he come from, the inspector general? What's his name?" Trump said when asked about the HHS report. He later attacked Grimm on Twitter as well, writing, "Why didn't the I.G., who spent 8 years with the Obama Administration (Did she Report on the failed H1N1 Swine Flu debacle where 17,000 people died?), want to talk to the Admirals, Generals, V.P. & others in charge, before doing her report." (Grimm joined the inspector general's office in 1999 during the Clinton administration and served under both Democratic and Republican administrations. She was not a political appointee.) Grimm is one of four inspectors general Trump has pushed out in recent weeks. On April 3, the president fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community's inspector general who provoked Trump's ire when he alerted Congress about an anonymous whistleblower complaint accusing Trump of trying to solicit Ukraine's interference in the 2020 US presidential election. The whistleblower complaint became the catalyst for Trump's impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate acquitted Trump of both charges earlier this year. On April 7, Trump abruptly removed the Pentagon's acting watchdog, Glenn Fine, who had also been tapped to oversee the execution of the $2 trillion package Congress passed for coronavirus relief. And on May 15, the president fired the State Department inspector general, Steve Linick. Reports in the days after indicated that at the time of his firing, Linick was said to be investigating whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a staffer walk his dog and pick up his dry cleaning. The Washington Post later reported that Linick was also investigating Pompeo's decision to expedite an $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia last May. The Trump administration circumvented congressional authority on the matter at the time by citing heightened tensions with Iran.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why Pikes Peak is the most dangerous racetrack in America
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State Department official fired by Trump was reportedly investigating whether Pompeo ordered a staffer to walk his dog and get his dry cleaning
Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general who was fired Friday, was investigating whether Secretary of...Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general who was fired Friday, was investigating whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a staffer walk his dog and pick up his dry cleaning, according to a report by NBC News. CNN, citing an unnamed Democratic aide, separately reported that Pompeo was suspected of making a staffer run personal errands. Two top Democrats in Congress announced on Saturday that they would investigate the circumstances of Linick's firing. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general who was fired Friday, is thought to have been investigating whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a staffer run personal errands, according to multiple reports. Two congressional officials told NBC News on Sunday that they were working to determine whether Linick was conducting additional investigations into Pompeo's conduct. A Democratic aide told CNN that Pompeo was suspected of making a staffer run personal errands such as walking his dog and picking up his dry cleaning. Representatives for the State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday announcing the firing, President Donald Trump said he "no longer" had full confidence in Linick. "As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as President, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General. That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General," Trump wrote in the letter, according to NBC News. Inspector generals are meant to conduct independent oversight of government agencies. Linick was the fourth inspector general removed by Trump since April, with the other three having been assigned to the Defense Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the intelligence community. Pelosi said in a statement on Friday night that Linick's firing had "accelerated" what she described as Trump's "dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people." "Inspector General Linick was punished for honorably performing his duty to protect the Constitution and our national security, as required by the law and by his oath," she said. Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a joint letter to the White House on Saturday demanding it forward all records related to Linick's ousting to Congress by May 22. "President Trump's unprecedented removal of Inspector General Linick is only his latest sacking of an inspector general, our government's key independent watchdogs, from a federal agency," the letter said. In a statement Friday evening, Engel said he believed Linick's firing was an "unlawful act of retaliation." "This firing is the outrageous act of a president trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the Secretary of State, from accountability," Engel said. "This president believes he is above the law."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Inside London during COVID-19 lockdown